Monday, April 22, 2013

How to Become an Urban Naturalist

Cedar Street, Roxbury
"Want to get wild?"

This is probably not a question we hear every day. But there's no reason why we can't. Too often we think that nature is "out there", in a forest, wilderness or body of water far away from our daily urban lives. Not true! Nature -- even wild nature -- is all around us if we have the eyes to look. And it's not just squirrels and Canada geese, though they are part of the package. It's tree blossoms and the matings of birds in the spring, the appearance of bees, butterflies and moths, rodents large and small, mushrooms, mosquitoes and a plethora of wildlife familiar and unfamiliar. In any urban wild walk, dozens, perhaps even hundreds of species can be discovered and enjoyed.

If you're looking for places to get wild in Boston, the city has a list of locations that are part of its Urban Wilds Initiative, many of which are hidden gems, like Cedar Street, here in Roxbury. The Arnold Arboretum has a great list of public educational programs, often free, to help tune you in to trees.

Curiosity can be your guide, but it helps to have a good resource for what you may come across. The Washington Post has been collecting an archive of urban creatures and events that apply to many other locations as well -- check it out.

The wild is all around us. Urban wild adds life to our artificial cities. Getting wild is just as easily said as done. Happy Earth Day.